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When it comes to pop culture, New York City is a frequent character in books, film, music, and television. The city streets have played as the backdrop for some of our most beloved stories, with iconic scenes immortalizing the energy and romance of the Big Apple. Hollywood might be the land where most movie stars reside, but New York City has been a muse to artists for generations.
There’s nothing like dining in the deli where Sally famously quoted, “I’ll have what she’s having,” or experiencing the Empire State Building and imagining Cary Grant tragically waiting for Deborah Kerr to arrive. The stories set in the City that Never Sleeps are endless, but we recommend these books and movies as some of the ultimate Odes to New York:
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
Revered as one of the Great American novels, Salinger’s story of teenage angst has arguably become the world’s most iconic coming of age story since it was first published in 1951. The tale of Holden Caulfield’s two days exploring New York includes both fictional and real locations around the metropolis. From feeding the ducks in Central Park’s South Pond to the Wicker Bar in the Seton Hotel (a hotel which still exists and is open today), Holden’s contemplation of his fellow human beings is set against the backdrop of New York’s streets and neighborhoods.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone’s away. There’s something very sensuous about it—overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands.”- The Great Gatsby
Few novels paint such glorious pictures of the Empire State as Fitzgerald’s most beloved tale. From Long Island to the Financial District, Fitzgerald writes of a decedent and splashy city amidst the height of the roaring 20’s. The author lived in New York himself and his real-life love of the city transferred to the pages of his most famous novel. From Scott and Zelda’s taxi rides on 5th Avenue, to dancing on the tables of the Waldorf, and the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel, the settings of the The Great Gatsby can still be experienced today.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote
Truman Capote’s classic novella transformed the little black dress and robin’s egg blue boxes into timeless icons. Holly Golightly, the novella’s heroine made famous by Audrey Hepburn, was a lady of the evening who somehow found true love in 1940’s New York City. The book inspired one of the world’s most famous films and is considered to be one of the greatest love letters to New York City and its Upper East Side.
A film about the bright lights of Broadway, this classic movie musical is credited with forever changing the film musical and single-handedly saving Warner Bros. studios from bankruptcy. Known as the film that helped grow Warner Bros into the major studio that it still is today, the musical transports viewers into the fast-paced, backstage world of the Great White Way. The film became a successful Broadway adaptation, eventually becoming the second longest running American musical in Broadway history behind A Chorus Line.
On the Town
The story of three sailors, Gabey, Chip, and Ozzie, On the Town is a joyful, technicolor romp through 1940’s New York. Starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin, the film focuses on a 24-hour shore leave that takes viewers through a whirlwind adventure through the city.
An Affair to Remember
An Affair to Remember is an emotional rollercoaster that is consistently ranked as one of the most romantic films of all time. The movie made The Empire State Building one of the worlds’ most enduring and beloved settings for couples and romantics everywhere. Even though the film’s characters are victims of tragic circumstance, the film ends with the lovers reunited and Kerr’s famous tear-jerker line, “If you can paint, I can walk. Anything can happen, don't you think?"
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